September summer

Rome is caramel coloured in September. The light is muted, tired almost from the constant brilliance of June, July, and August. Everything is bathed in a soft tone, reflecting the cream stone that makes up most of the city, and creating a warm dulce leche glow. 

It is sweeter than the harsh hotness of the light in August, palpable in its heaviness. Or the fierceness of July, relentlessly heating the city up. And sweeter too than the brightness of June, when nights never seem to fall. 

September is shorts and T-shirt weather, muggy even, but the fight has gone out of it. You can feel summer relinquishing its grip, succumbing to the darkness that encroaches each day. The fresh mornings tempt you to wear long sleeves or trousers. At your own peril because by 10.00am you will be rueing that decision. And although evenings come quicker, they don’t come with much coolness. 

September is also still.  Like summer is in a game of ‘play dead’, hoping that autumn won’t notice it has overstayed. At night not a leaf or speck of dust moves.

During the day a powder blue sky accentuates the city’s domes and skyline of medieval towers. Trees in full green bloom line the slow flowing river.  Soft beige light illuminates and smooths every curve of marble and groove of column. There is no where to hide from it and no need to.  It is benign, tranquil.  Just enough to show it off to its best, but not so much that you need to manage it. It allows its twisty streets to claim you, show you hidden delights too small to be included in guidebooks but unique in their ability to transfer an experience of Roman life.

September summer means not having to stop for siesta unless you want to, as your brains won’t fry in the sun at 3.00pm. It means not having to drink a Trevi fountain sized amount of water, and then find a public toilet (good luck with that). In September Rome is a languid city, content from having had its piazzas and parks used to their fullest for concerts, operas, marching bands, open air theatre, cinema, and book fairs. The end of summer Rome knows it’s a full-blown beauty and looks it.

As the golden month ends something must be done to celebrate it – to say thank you for the long and glorious summer and to toast the ‘any day now’ appearance of Autumn. All rituals in Rome revolve around food and wine so that must form the basis of this one. In September there is great competition between the late season white and yellow peaches and the new season plums and the purple grapes that are as big as my eyeballs. Wild mushrooms appear, always caked with dirt, along with crisp cabbage, onions, and fresh garlic.  Its all another sign, that no matter how long summer pretends to hang on like it owns the joint, the earth is turning away from it, into the long dark night of autumn.

It must be Autumn’s bounty that we use to herald it in, say thank you to summer and let it know that it can release its hold and allow us all to be cosy, dark, and fallow for a while. Deep red wine from the fields of Sicily where the soil knows what old and dark tastes like, and Rome’s indigenous grape variety, Cesanese, make up our choices. The Syrah (Shiraz) from Sicily tastes like Autumn itself, spicy and berry like, while the Cesanese tastes like an alcoholic Ribena shot through with dark chocolate. Sharp cheese and salami go with them. I rejoice in the re-entry of this food into my diet as the cooler temperatures allow the flavours and consistency to be enjoyed in a way that in the height of summer they aren’t.

A table of mums next to us raise their glasses ‘to Autumn’, and I realise we are not the only ones that do this.  As I gaze down at my sun-tanned legs still in linen shorts it’s hard to believe that by December they will be encased in woollen trousers and long boots topped with a cashmere coat.  Each winter I do the reverse and find it hard to imagine that my legs will be bare. And yet it happens, every year, bringing with it the comfort that some things never change. For now, I am enjoying the present, Rome bathed in a subtle, sweet caramel light that will gently descend into Autumn.

If you enjoyed this blog you may enjoy reading my books. Click on the ‘books’ page at the top of this post.

Rome unlocking

“Now we can start living again” is the phrase I most hear around my neighbourhood.  Its mostly from the elderly, those over 70, of which Italy has one of the highest population levels globally.  My suburb is representative, many of the inhabitants are over that age, and in the range that has been most impacted by COVID.

The vaccines are here and being handed out with military precision and effectiveness as always happens when things get handed over for the army to do.  The infection and death rates are plummeting and soon this all will be a memory. I am glad we have faced it head on, dealing with and learning from the consequences, adapting, and adjusting rather than trying to avoid it, pretending it’s not there, or hoping that it will just go away. The changes we made as a population and as a nation helped us survive and will continue to, as changes always do.  There is a lot to be said for having weathered a storm.   

When in March 2020 we were sent home from work for two weeks, with schools, restaurants, gyms, shops all closed, no one imagined that we would still be in some form of lockdown more than one year later.  March 2021 was a hard month for everyone.  In March 2020 no one imagined that instead of two weeks it would be more than two months before we were allowed outside again without a certified signed document stating the 3 reasons you could leave your apartment (buying food locally, visiting the doctor or on a walk by yourself in your own neighbourhood for mental or physical health reasons), or risk being fined up to 800 Euro. No one imagined that over one year later it would still be mandatory to always wear masks inside and outside, or that some form of lockdown would continue indefinitely with strict lockdown occurring again at Christmas, New Year, Easter and for weeks at a time either side. 

I like many others have never returned to the workplace. No one imagined that after a brief hiatus last summer, all gyms, theatres, schools, and businesses would again be closed until the beginning of the next summer, or that when restaurants, bars and cafes were closed at 6pm and a curfew installed at the beginning of last autumn, that it would be spring before we could go out and eat at night again.  And no one imagined that there would be second birthdays or anniversaries of things in lockdown.  The challenge of adapting the celebration to the new restrictions and the fun of inventing new ways to do things is gone the second time around. All the energy to recreate new traditions and the fight to make the best of it has gone.  Used up in the more than a year of daily energy required to be resilient in the face of a never-ending threat and combatting an ever-present level of anxiety that we all feel, an undercurrent to everything we do, making any other stressful events even more so. After a year of this we are all slightly stupefied and lethargic, it’s as close to a zombie nation as I hope to ever live in.

There is a listlessness that comes after over a year of lockdown and restrictions.  We have all been champions at working and schooling from home converting an entire nation almost overnight to digital. We work, study, socialise, exercise, play, relax, celebrate, eat, shop, have medical appointments all through the screen of our computers, and always in the same 20 square metres. Italians like many nations live in relatively small and mostly shared spaces where there is only one space for the family to relax during their leisure time.  This space is also the workspace, the study space, and the exercise space.  Yoga mats replace roll away desks, and ironing boards in front of sofas become ballet barres after hours.  Balconies, if you have one become the place where you can shout out or down to friends and neighbours in the street, and many an abandoned rooftop got dusted off and decorated with socially distanced deck chairs and tables over the past year.

We haven’t been able to hug or kiss or touch each other for over a year, a culture that kiss each other several times a day, amongst friends and family.  Recently a friend gave me a clandestine hug when she came to visit me while I was mourning the death of a family member (not from COVID).  It was like an electric shock.  The feel of someone’s arms around me stunned me out of my grief for a few minutes and then made feel incredibly sad that we had all missed out on this most basic of human kindnesses in a time when we all most needed it.  Eating together as families and friends outside in the public places that replace most people’s living rooms, sharing a table, sitting long into the night together, the tinkling of glasses in the moonlight, or the odour of fresh seafood in the sunlight, the energy we all get from each other, from changing our environments, from the wind that whips up the edges of table clothes, from the sounds of music coming from other classrooms in the gym or dance school, the stimulation of peers and colleagues, the snatches of different languages, going for a walk in the countryside, being in nature, leaving the province to go on holiday or visit family, the feeling of being challenged physically, the feeling of advancement over compensation, of thriving rather than surviving, of gain over loss, these are all the things that have been sacrificed in this long, hard, more than a years battle.  They are integral to the experience of life here and without them life has changed considerably.

It has made us all more appreciative of small things, tolerant, and thankful for the battle we have fought and (mostly) won together. With great suffering comes great joy.  I don’t know whether the suffering always has to equal the joy, but I would never have imagined I would have the amount of joy I am experiencing right now at the announcement that my ballet school will now be open in a week, or at how much the joy is intensified by sharing it with the 10 others that I have struggled through 9 months of pretty hopeless and very frustrating ballet lessons via zoom! Due to bandwidth issues we all heard the music at different times so we could never co-ordinate our movements, and those of us (i.e. me) used to copying the person in front them, could no longer do so. For the teacher to be able to see my whole body the screen had to be so far away that I needed my glasses on to see anyone else, and for the same reason I have become very familiar with everyone’s crotches as we neared the screens each time the teacher needed to demo something. Let’s not even mention trying to do pirouettes in the space usually taken up by a desk.  Or about how my barre, which is really the back of my office chair, keeps wheeling itself away during pliés so I am left holding on to thin air and post-menopausal muscle density. Small suffering, maybe, big joy at its ending, definitely.

So maybe the joy is always greater, and, in that case, we are all in for a big load of it. Not the least of which is that we will soon be free to leave the country and wander this wonderful earth again, as well as welcome visitors to this wonderful piece of it. Flights full of vaccinated, quarantine exempt citizens from the UK and US are speeding towards us this very minute.

When I hear the phrase “now we can begin living life again”, I know exactly what it means, and I sincerely look forward to it.

Reviews and news

“As a busy, weary, health worker in a COVID challenged work environment ‘Ticket for One’ was the ideal break, the ultimate escape, the virtual trip I really needed.” 5 stars.

Good news for Australians! Amazon has now started printing paperbacks in Australia so you can order my book directly from them, as well as still being able to buy it from the fabulous Beaumaris Books bookstore, Melbourne.

For the rest of the above review, please read on…………

“Bronte, a young woman in turmoil, started recording her experiences at the start of her overseas travels, her penmanship reflecting advancing maturity both as a traveller, a person, and a writer. The youthful outlook, phrases, and perspectives on life develop and mature as she gains experience not just as a traveller but as an author. She is able to take the memories of what she has seen, done, and felt and record them using beautiful word pictures that take the reader on a journey into places, immersing you in the emotion of events, through Brontes’ vivid recollections.

The book is indeed a reflection of Bronte’s ‘Coming of age’, as an individual, a traveller and most excitingly as a writer.

Turkey’s beautiful landscapes, people, and shared food are described in depth, as is the wonderful culture, a rare glimpse in sharp contrast to the usual political side we often hear portrayed in the media.

Through Greece to Rome, described so well and intimately by Bronte Jackson that I felt I too was there, reliving my travels in the early eighties. It brought back wonderful memories but with greater in-depth vision brought about by her wonderful, descriptive phrasing, and bravery in sharing a single female’s travel from turmoil to peace.

I recommend this to anyone wanting to escape on a trip of the senses in a romantic Europe”.

And who doesn’t want that? 😉

Further more from Goodreads…….

“I enjoyed this book. It kept me turning the pages to discover what Bronte would get up to next. It also made me want to visit the places (eating the food) she wrote about. I appreciated the mini history lessons.

I recommend this book to those who want to do some mind-travelling or have a laugh at the author’s speed dating before the internet was available.

Reading this book was a lot of fun.”

On sale until 25th April

Have you ever dreamt of winning a ticket to a whole new life?

5 star reviews on Amazon

One woman’s transformative, inspirational and humorous trek

through Greece, Turkey and Italy.

Sometimes you have to let go of everything to find what you really want.

Greek islands, Summer…

Bronté finds herself backpacking through the Mediterranean, but it’s not all paradise.

Reeling from the end of her marriage, the loss of her job, and with no place to call home Bronté hadn’t hesitated to pack her bags when she unexpectedly won an airline ticket to her dream destination, with spending money included!

With nothing left to lose, she had set off into the unknown with no itinerary, no experience, and a hastily filled backpack. After losing access to her money on her first day, being poisoned on her second day, and finding herself sleeping on a beach next to travellers on the run from organised crime, her adventure takes her on an hilarious tour through the underworld of backpacking.

This is a story about transformation from helplessness to power, hopelessness to faith, and anguish to joy. Set against the backdrop of breathtaking Mediterranean islands, vibrant Rome, enchanting Tuscany, and captivating Turkey, Bronte connects with the beauty of nature to restore her shattered heart and confidence. 

But how will she be able to go back to normal life after this journey? Should she stay in the arms of her belly dancing boyfriend? And is the amount of byzantine icons in a city a good indication of whether she should settle there?

“I listened, I let myself go where my heart took me and it never took me ‘back home’.  It took me to a new one.”

“From a dark, gaping hole of plans that had fallen through, and a life that had never worked out the way I wanted I had trodden step by step, carrying nothing with me except what was required, staying constantly in the present. Somehow I moved forward just by being, just by stepping, just by continuing to look at the sky, talking to the people around me, and being out on the road each minute, each hour, each day. Although I had wanted to stay still, crying on a Greek beach waiting for someone to rescue me, I found that moving into the unknown was so much more interesting and, in the long term, truly fulfilling.”

A compelling and candid story. An odyssey of self-discovery that fundamentally questions how to live and find happiness.

A Roman Sunday

Morning light seeps through the slats in the blinds quite early even though we are in Winter. The light is weak and grey which means it is raining but we cannot hear it. It’s a soft rain, almost tropical in its cadence and different from the lashing, sideways rain that pelts ice cubes at our windows on a regular basis in Winter. Sunday morning in February and only the second one where we have been allowed to travel outside of Rome since before Christmas.

We have been waiting for weeks to get out of the city and into the beautiful Sabine countryside only an hour North of Rome. Reminiscent of Tuscany in parts because of its proliferation of cypress and rows of olive groves, it is less polished, less touristed, perfect for rambling and blasting the city from your senses. In no time at all we are deeply immersed in its green rolling hills, and constantly changing landscape. Jagged medieval towers rise in ruins out of dense forest, abandoned abbeys sit forlorn in the mist, Etruscan fountains still sprout in the wilderness, and everywhere you look there is a view below and above you.

 

 

Soon our car crunches onto a caramel-coloured road that seems to have a small tributary running through the middle of it. Other cars are inching along it ahead, obviously also Romans unused to driving over anything that is not cobbled, asphalted, or coated in leaves. We pull up at some stone buildings that have stood for centuries. They are connected by makeshift wooden verandas made up from sticks gathered in the forest nearby, hanging together because of their shapes rather than any type of formal attachments like a nail or bracket. Behind the small buildings we can hear a donkey braying loudly, and around them the most beautiful chickens and roosters I have ever seen peck and strut. Some of them have fluorescent green feathers, others are puffy balls of white down, still others are speckled with two tone feathers and white polka dots. And they are gigantic.

We have come to celebrate my husband’s birthday (which was in December, but we were in lock down), with some close friends who live in the Sabine hills and who have recommended this restaurant. It is a fixed menu that changes depending on the season and day, and none of us knows what is on it. We do not need to, and we never do. In this country it is part of the culture to eat this way, as though it is an extension of eating with the family, whatever they are cooking, using their own and local produce, they cook enough for all of us. With no explanation or introduction plates begin arriving as soon as we have sat down.

Inside, the place is quirkily and lovingly restored and decorated with farming tools and implements, hand painted doors and murals, and wooden tables and chairs. It is light and bright, warm, and noisy, each group seeming to have its own area, so it feels like you are dining alone in your Tuscan farmhouse (probably because of needing to have appropriate distance between tables for social distancing to occur). A large glass bottle filled with dark red wine is on the table along with a bottle of water and a basket of bread. They all get refilled as often as we ask.

A plate of thickly cut pink prosciutto (dried, cured ham) laced with fat, some bresaola (dried beef) and salami studded with slices of whole black peppers arrives, then a plate of crusty white bread laced with local olive oil and topped with bright green broccoletti, a bitter and delicious green leafy Roman vegetable boiled and then fried in oil, garlic, and chilli. Other dishes land simultaneously until our table is covered and luckily, we know the custom or we would assume this is our whole meal instead of just our appetiser…. or antipasto. Thick wedges of creamy white ricotta cheese resting on purple leaves of radicchio appear, along with a dish of rolled up and deep-fried slices of eggplant stuffed with mozzarella and ham, whole baked mushrooms filled with minced pork and vegetables and a steaming bowl of beans in tomato sauce floating with bits of chewy pork belly. I am unable to eat, drink, talk, look, and absorb my beautiful surroundings all at the same time, so I give up and just eat. Just in time for the focaccia topped with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese to be placed in front of me.

The bean dish is full of a deep earth flavour that makes me want to shove everybody out of the way as I engulf it, the sauce is also slightly piquant, and the pork and mince are chewy mouthfuls of heaven. The ricotta has a deep flavour unlike the ones I buy at the supermarket. It is slightly tart but also sweet and full of body which means you must chew it not just swallow it. The rolled up eggplant slices, although small and only one each unfortunately, are so juicy and filling that one is enough. And the cured meats have a robust flavour and consistency that you only find in the countryside where they are produced, salty, fatty, and deeply satisfying. Washed down with a glass of the strongest red wine I have ever tasted, I am very happy, and have forgotten that its rainy, Winter and that there is or ever was a pandemic raging.

 

 

 

 

 

As I said those of us in the know, know that this is only the beginning of a meal so matter how yummy the beans are and how many slices of prosciutto there are left, none of us is rushing for a second helping. Luckily, the portions are just right and there is nothing wasted. There are several courses to come though – the primo, secondo and dolce, dessert. Luckily coffee and liqueurs will help us digest. The primo dish is pasta and a communal bowl of ravioli squares filled with ricotta and spinach and covered with tomato sauce and parmesan is served. A little while later a platter of thin barbequed pork steaks like huge thick slices of bacon, and some sausages come out, juicy, tender, and full of flavour. Coffee is served with bowls of homemade biscuits to choose from. They are filled with jam, nuts, dried fruit, or spices. Hard and crunchy they are small and light, just perfect. Local digestives and some from far away (the Amalfi coast) finish off this magnificent birthday meal (all for a cost of AUS$ 40 per head).

The rain has not let up and is now coming down steadily, the fog has descended halfway down the valley settling on the top of the Abbey of Farfa giving it a white fluffy halo and making the bright green olive groves directly under it light up. We are back in our car to watch the light gently fade and the sun set over Rome as we drive back into it.

If you enjoy these blogs you might also enjoy my books Roman Daze – La Dolce Vita for all Seasons and Ticket for One. Available in paperback and kindle on Amazon, Book depository and book stores. https://www.amazon.com/Bronte-Dee-Jackson/e/B00I5BH68K

Book launch by zoom? Ticket for One book launch in Rome

Have you ever attended a book launch via zoom? Watch the Ticket for One book launch, Rome in the comfort of your own home or relive the experience if you were there!

Ticket for One book launch via zoom – Rome, Italy

Ticket for One was launched in Rome (where the author is based) and then in Melbourne, Australia both via zoom. If you would like to see the Australian book launch, and the slideshow that went with it please click here.

https://brontejackson.com/2020/12/28/missed-the-australian-book-launch-of-ticket-for-one/

Thanks a million to all who attended both launches and have supported me in this book. Please keep spreading the word in your networks and leaving me reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Word of mouth and reviews are the best way to publicise a book. Both books are available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, Beaumaris Books, Melbourne, FAO Book shop and Otherwise bookshop, Rome.

Ticket for One reached no. 16 on the Amazon global best sellers list for Italian travel but is not only about Italy. Here’s what Amazon reviewers are saying:

“A great adventure showing how chance encounters can change your life forever. If you are brave enough to take the first step.” UK Amazon reviewer 

“Bronté Jackson is a gifted storyteller with a talent for evoking the colours and sensations of the places she visits”. Italian Amazon reviewer

“A beautifully descriptive and emotional account of backpacking adventures in far away places while reconsidering the direction of one’s life”. Australian Amazon reviewer

If you would like to preview either of my books please click on the links below.

Rome – the eternally empty city

I have taken myself off and out for a date with my city – it’s been awhile and I am desperate to fit one in before my privileges are revoked again and we all have to stay at home.

“Where are you going?”, my husband asks.

“I don’t know, that’s the point of an Artists date*, you have no itinerary, no plans; the point is to spend time in the unknown”.

“Well just call me if you need a lift back”.

It’s been decades since I have been able to get lost in Rome.  When I first arrived in the early 1990’s it was my favourite thing to do – wander, get lost, discover new things and places.  Rome seemed an unending labyrinth of possibilities and new experiences, full of new discoveries to be stored up for revisiting and taking others to later. Hidden corners, quaint nooks, undiscovered restaurants and cafes, quiet streets of artisans, grand public buildings, impromptu exhibitions, tranquil shady piazzas, serene vistas over the river, flower ridden parks, newly excavated ruins, newly restored churches and museums, views of the sunset…….but now I know them all and part of me is sad that I do.  I miss the excitement and amazement, the wonder and the thrill of the unknown, of losing oneself and discovering that you are not lost after all, but just in a different place with lots of new possibilities.

But today the city did it for me, for old time’s sake.  I managed to not know where I was for a good half hour or so until I spilled out, from a new direction, into a well traversed piazza.  Today the city gave me what I needed as it always does. Whatever my need Rome fulfils it.  If I am hungry or thirsty it feeds and waters me, if I am bored it delights me, if I am tired it restores me, if I am stressed and overworked it calms and refreshes me, if I am frightened it comforts me, if I have lost my perspective on life it brings it back, if I am broke it entertains me for free, if I am flush it offers me luxurious treats, if I am sad it cheers me, if I need to celebrate and am happy it brings me ways to prolong and satisfy this. All I need to do is get out and into it which I have been prevented from doing for large parts of the year and which is in danger of happening again so I need my dose. And I also need to wander into the unknown; after months of precise assessment, structured processes, analytical decisions and having to care about things I don’t (like how many millimetres a margin in a book should be), I need to be released into the unknown for a bit of a break.

So I do my best to listen to my inner artist, see the unseen, take paths less well trodden and let the day unfold, like it is the first day I have ever been here. It means I have to abandon myself to my senses and watch for the signs that direct me to my unknown destination.  Like the movie production vans (Mission Impossible, again) that block my entrance to quiet street I want to duck down and instead put me on another path, or the gypsy standing on the corner obscured in shade, that attracts me to turn down that street, or the view of a walled in bridge up high connecting two ancient palaces that catches my attention and pulls me down towards it.  And then I am lost.  Lost inside my well known world, enabling me to see it differently, to learn to be at peace with not knowing, to notice the small details of where I currently am, and to appreciate that.

I stumble into a sunny regal renaissance piazza, completely empty, quiet, and in repose.  Plants in marble pots and wrought-iron lampposts border it. Elaborate lace-iron balconies offset the neatly painted white and light orange buildings, all with matching shutters. The small windy street is bereft of cars and motorini, there are no tourists wandering, no one is sitting on the rails edging the small space reading a map, checking their phone, or eating a sandwich.  No one is standing in front of the small church doorway taking a selfie, or posing for someone else. I listen to the wind and notice the empty rubbish bin. I self-consciously take photos of the building that is shaped like a triangle. An older man in an impeccable suit exits a government ministry building, eyes me hungrily, but walks on, looking back at me once or twice as he ambles deliberately slowly across the piazza; but I show no signs of catching up to him or noticing him, the communication is accepted and he moves on.

I amble along the thin curvy street, hemmed in by the walls of the buildings and too soon find myself in a well-known destination, Piazza della Rotunda.  The piazza that houses the 2000 year old Pantheon, one of the best preserved Roman temples dedicated to ‘all the Gods’.  It has been in continuous use throughout its history as a temple to receive sacrifices, as a Catholic church and now one of Rome’s most visited monuments.  Today for the first time in 2,000 years entry is prohibited. The Pantheon is shut. I wander into the piazza, one of my favourite and where I always come when I need to spend time in a special place, either celebrating or commiserating – when my dad came to Rome, when my best friend visited, when my Nan died, they have all been marked here in this piazza at a table with some Prosecco.  Today I am celebrating the finishing of my second book, but it also feels a bit like a commiseration.

 At lunch time, a table in the winter sunshine, without being a politician, movie star or having sat there since mid-morning, would be impossible.  But today as soon as I round the corner I am pounced on by the liveried waiter and there is no need to ask if there is a table in the sunshine available, they all are.  I order a glass of Prosecco knowing it will come with ample snacks (today it is peanuts, olives and chips) and settle down to watch people in the piazza.  Gangs of politicians come strolling through on a lunch break from the Parliament houses close by, groups of tradesmen in uniform amble by, and a couple of pigeons. That’s it. Usually this piazza is packed and worth hours of people watching, while waiters hover as soon as you have finished your drink and others hopeful of your table start to move towards it. Usually there are so many people sitting around the fountain that the steps are obscured and the entrance to the Pantheon obliterated by the snaking line of tourists queuing, the horses and carts waiting, police strolling, gypsies begging, sellers selling, and photographers flashing. Today the waiter doggedly stays inside so I can’t ask for my bill and have to sit there for as long as possible, hopefully enticing others to sit as well.  I slowly munch through my peanuts, chips and olives relishing the December sunlight.

The place I usually go for lunch is closed. There is a sign on the door explaining that as long as the Covid restrictions are partly in force they can no longer afford to open. Glad I ate all my peanuts, I head to my favourite café for a hot chocolate.  It’s in via Condotti, Rome’s busiest and most exclusive shopping street that leads up to the Spanish steps.  Café Greco usually has a queue to get in, service is slow and erratic, and it has been continually open since 1760.  Today the formal suited waiter opens the door for me and ushers me to a table.  I am the only person in here.  It is so quiet I can hear the coffee machine steaming. 

I order my hot chocolate which comes with separate whipped cream and is the kind of thing that is akin to enlightenment – the world looks and feels entirely different after one of these.  I snuggle in to the plush red cushions at my back and take my fill of the glorious paintings and etchings that surround me, knowing I can take as long as I like. About five minutes later the overpowering silence and lack of activity begins to feel eerie.  This is not a place that should be bereft of people, of the clinks of china, the swish of tray bearing waiters, exclamations of consternation from people as they realise there are no spare seats, the squeals of children that usually run up and down between the aisles of tables, murmured conversations, delighted laughter, selfies and group photos, customers trying to get the attention of waiters, heated conversations mid-passageway between staff, and the muted shouts from them behind the counter to their mobile counterparts.

This is the unknown.  An empty Rome, and none of us feels comfortable, and we are all sick of it.  The last time Rome was this empty was after the final conquering of it, more than 1,600 years ago, when everyone that was still alive fled, and sheep grazed amongst the rubble in the Forum for the next 1,000 years. After years of wishing that Rome was less full of tourists and having given up even frequenting some parts of the city, I find myself hoping that they would all come back, hoping that you all come back, hoping that we all come back.

If you enjoy these blogs you might also enjoy my books Roman Daze – La Dolce Vita for all Seasons and Ticket for One. Available in paperback and kindle on Amazon, Book depository and book stores. https://www.amazon.com/Bronte-Dee-Jackson/e/B00I5BH68K

*If you are not familiar with this term see Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists Way.

Missed the Australian book launch of Ticket for One?

Or just want to watch it/experience it again? No problems. Click on the below.

Ticket for One book launch via zoom – Australia

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is booklaunch6.png

It starts about five minutes into the introduction of my book, Ticket for One. We then dive into a Q & A about why I wrote the book, how I handled the tricky themes of vulnerability and bravery, as well as the struggle about keeping the ‘voice’ of the young woman I was when I took the journey. There are a couple of readings from the book, which while not giving anything away, give a flavour of what there is to enjoy about the book. And then we launch it! The whole thing takes about 45 minutes so sit down with a glass of wine and a Greek salad, some Turkish mezze or Italian antipasto and enjoy the show!

If you would like to listen to a podcast of the book launch rather than watch it, just click here.

Ticket for One has now reached no. 16 on the Amazon global best sellers list for Italian travel but is not only about Italy. Here’s what Amazon reviewers are saying:

“A great read of an adventurous young women as she finds her place in the world”. UK reviewer

“Bronté Jackson is a gifted storyteller with a talent for evoking the colours and sensations of the places she visits”. Italian reviewer

“A beautifully descriptive and emotional account of backpacking adventures in far away places while reconsidering the direction of one’s life”. Australian reviewer

I say the book is about three things:

  1. How you can be on the brink of things, with everything falling apart around you, and come back from that to a whole new version of yourself.
  2. Travel. The wonder, the hardship, the joy of travel; travel as a journey to learn about yourself and others, getting the widest possible input into your world view, understanding ‘the other’, realizing that we are all much more like each other than we are not; friendship, those made on and off the road, and sustained.
  3. The beauty of the Mediterranean. The power of that beauty to heal and restore, to reach right down into your soul and find you, the power of history, of past civilisations and their human experiences that teach and help us in our struggles today.

And apparently you will laugh a lot, and need to eat Greek, Turkish and/or Italian food!

Thirty eight people zoomed in from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, NSW Central coast, north coast of Victoria, and Rome to attend the Australian based launch. You will not be able to see all the participants as the recording done on zoom only catches the first screen of people. You will also not be able to see the slideshow so I have inserted it below. You will have to play the soundtrack yourselves of the songs that went with it and captured the moment and moods of summer 1993………..

(Madonna, Like a Prayer; REM, Loosing my religion; Pet shop boys, Its a sin, Go West; Black, It’s a wonderful life; D:Ream, Things can only get better; U2, In the name of love)

The northern hemisphere book launch will be posted soon, along with a podcast of this one. Thanks a million to all who attended both launches and have supported me in this book. Please keep spreading the word in your networks and leaving me reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. Word of mouth and reviews are the best way to publicise a book. Both books are available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, Beaumaris Books, Melbourne, FAO bookshop and Otherwise bookshop, Rome.

Amazon.com: Ticket for one: One woman’s transformative, inspirational and humorous trek through Greece, Turkey and Italy eBook: Jackson, Bronté Dee: Kindle Store

https://www.amazon.com/Roman-Daze-Dolce-Seasons-English-ebook/dp/B07N2FB9CL

 

Book release!

Dear friends, I am so excited to let you know that my new book is ready! Click below for sneak preview and to order! Kindle version is ready now and paperback version any day now. And Rome-based residents can purchase directly from me. It is available in all Amazon markets. Stand by for an invite to the book launch.  Please help me by spreading the word and sharing this in your feed or group of friends, and leave me a review when you have finished it!  Happy reading everyone!

Sometimes you have to let go of everything to find what you really want.

Greek islands, Summer 1993……

Bronté finds herself backpacking through the Mediterranean, but it’s not all paradise.

Reeling from the end of her marriage, the loss of her job, and with no place to call home Bronté hadn’t hesitated to pack her bags when she unexpectedly won an airline ticket to her dream destination, with spending money included!

With nothing left to lose, she had set off into the unknown with no itinerary, no experience, and a hastily filled backpack. After losing access to her money on her first day, being poisoned on her second day, and finding herself sleeping on a beach next to travellers on the run from organised crime, her adventure takes her on an hilarious tour through the underworld of backpacking.

This is a story about transformation from helplessness to power, hopelessness to faith, and anguish to joy. Set against the backdrop of breathtaking Mediterranean islands, vibrant Rome, enchanting Tuscany, and captivating Turkey, Bronte connects with the beauty of nature to restore her shattered heart and confidence. 

But how will she be able to go back to normal life after this journey? Should she stay in the arms of her belly dancing boyfriend? And is the amount of byzantine icons in a city a good indication of whether she should settle there?

“I listened, I let myself go where my heart took me and it never took me ‘back home’.  It took me to a new one.”

“From a dark, gaping hole of plans that had fallen through, and a life that had never worked out the way I wanted I had trodden step by step, carrying nothing with me except what was required, staying constantly in the present. Somehow I moved forward just by being, just by stepping, just by continuing to look at the sky, talking to the people around me, and being out on the road each minute, each hour, each day. Although I had wanted to stay still, crying on a Greek beach waiting for someone to rescue me, I found that moving into the unknown was so much more interesting and, in the long term, truly fulfilling.”

A compelling and candid story. An odyssey of self-discovery that fundamentally questions how to live and find happiness.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ticketforonebackcover_alpha02.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/author/brontejackson

 

New book!

Sometimes you have to let go of everything to find what you really want.

Greek islands, Summer…

Bronté finds herself backpacking through the Mediterranean, but it’s not all paradise.

Reeling from the end of her marriage, the loss of her job, and with no place to call home Bronté hadn’t hesitated to pack her bags when she unexpectedly won an airline ticket to her dream destination, with spending money included!

With nothing left to lose, she had set off into the unknown with no itinerary, no experience, and a hastily filled backpack. After losing access to her money on her first day, being poisoned on her second day, and finding herself sleeping on a beach next to travellers on the run from organised crime, her adventure takes her on an hilarious tour through the underworld of backpacking.

This is a story about transformation from helplessness to power, hopelessness to faith, and anguish to joy. Set against the backdrop of breathtaking Mediterranean islands, vibrant Rome, enchanting Tuscany, and captivating Turkey, Bronte connects with the beauty of nature to restore her shattered heart and confidence. 

But how will she be able to go back to normal life after this journey? Should she stay in the arms of her belly dancing boyfriend? And is the amount of byzantine icons in a city a good indication of whether she should settle there?

“I listened, I let myself go where my heart took me and it never took me ‘back home’.  It took me to a new one.”

“From a dark, gaping hole of plans that had fallen through, and a life that had never worked out the way I wanted I had trodden step by step, carrying nothing with me except what was required, staying constantly in the present. Somehow I moved forward just by being, just by stepping, just by continuing to look at the sky, talking to the people around me, and being out on the road each minute, each hour, each day. Although I had wanted to stay still, crying on a Greek beach waiting for someone to rescue me, I found that moving into the unknown was so much more interesting and, in the long term, truly fulfilling.”

A compelling and candid story. An odyssey of self-discovery that fundamentally questions how to live and find happiness.

Ready for release mid-November on Amazon in paper back and e-book (kindle)

https://www.amazon.com/Bronte-Dee-Jackson/e/B00I5BH68K